No matter where your domestic helper is from, everything from her daily habits to religious customs can be very different from yours. That’s why it could be difficult to maintain a good employment relationship.
As the population in Hong Kong ages, it’s fast becoming a norm that both parents work full-time. Thus, the demand for domestic helpers increases. According to the Immigration Department, nowadays, there are 390,000 foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong. In other words, for every seven households, there is one with a hired helper.
Today at Kwiksure, we’ll take a look at 4 ways employers can develop a good relationship with their helpers.
Prepare for your helper’s arrival
You should get to know you and your helper’s rights and responsibilities. As an employer, particularly if you’re hiring for the first time, you should refer to the Standard Employment Contract and Terms of Employment for Helpers (ID 407). For example, the law states that all employers must give at least 1 full day of rest every week, and 12 days of state holidays.
Moreover, you should research and compare different domestic helper insurance plans. Then, secure one prior to the start of the employment contract. Remember to pay attention to your insurance plan’s terms and conditions about the waiting period.
Manage your expectations
To avoid misunderstandings, communicate your needs early and often. When your domestic helper comes home for the first time, it is best to talk about the job expectations you have for her. This includes her work schedule and the scope of work. Furthermore, let her know the house rules, such as the areas in your flat where she isn’t allowed to enter. You can also give her a heads up on your relationship with your kids. For instance, whether you need her to help drop off your children at school.
Even if the helper you hired has plenty of work experience, she may still need a transition period before she gradually adapts to her new job and picks up new skills. This usually takes about three to four months. So, try to be patient if there’s a gap between your expectations and your helper’s performance. Adopt a "praise first, teach later" approach. This way, your helper is more likely to listen to your criticisms without feeling like she has been scolded.
“Basic treatment” is essential
“Basic treatment” refers to your helper’s salary, accommodation, holidays, and insurance. Additionally, you should make sure that your helper is properly fed. Some helpers are afraid to even let their employers know that they are hungry! That’s why if you don’t intend to share meals with your maid, you should provide her with a meal allowance on the first day of each month.
A number of helpers prefer letting their employers eat first after cooking. You may feel that dining at the same table with your helper would increase her sense of belonging. However, she may prefer some time to herself. Alternatively, she simply wants to make video calls with family and friends during meal breaks. In this case, employers like you can take the initiative to set aside some food for your maid. This will make her feel more respected because she won’t have to dine on your leftover food.
You should always reserve a room for your helper to live in. After all, everyone needs their own space. Occasionally, we see on the Internet cases where employers let their helpers sleep in a TV cabinet or above the toilet. Although space is limited in Hong Kong, these are terrible examples of what an employer should do.
If you absolutely don’t have an extra room to spare, make sure that she at least has enough space to rest and to be alone. Never let your helper sleep in the cupboard like the picture shown below.
You should reserve a room for your domestic helper to live in. After all, everyone needs their own space.
4. Maintain a clear distinction between penalty and reward
It is important to maintain a harmonious relationship with your helper. However, avoid being too accommodating all the time. Otherwise, she will become arrogant and lax. Keep in mind that rewards don’t have to be material rewards. It can be encouragement instead. For instance, you could praise her when she performs a task well. On her birthday or on special occasions, it’s also nice to give her a small gift.
However, don’t loudly yell at your maid if she makes a mistake. This might hurt your working relationship in the long run. Also, it doesn’t fix the problem. For instance, if she returns late at night without prior notice, give her an opportunity to explain herself. Then, express that if she does this again, there will be penalties, such as the deduction of her wage. If your helper refuses to change her behaviour and keeps breaking the same rule, you could seek assistance from the maid employment agency.
How do you form and maintain a good employment relationship? This is a very good question. Every helper and their employers are unique individuals with different personalities, values, and habits. Nonetheless, we hope you’ll find these 4 tips on getting along with your helper useful.
As mentioned above, buying a domestic helper insurance plan for your helper before she even starts working is the first step in establishing a good relationship. If you are happy with her work performance, you could even purchase a comprehensive domestic helper insurance plan. This comes with more comprehensive coverage. Alternatively, you could even express your gratitude with the critical illness coverage add-on.
What can Kwiksure do for you?
There are countless domestic helper insurance plans available on the market. However, choosing the right one can be incredibly time-consuming. The best way to do this is to seek expert advice from insurance brokers like Kwiksure. Our team of insurance experts are happy to find the perfect insurance solution for you.